As rising levels of pollution in Siliguri become the talk of the town, a resident here has filed applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, seeking to know how pollution- free is smoke emitted by diesel-run city auto rickshaws.

Somnath Das of Desbandhu Para also wants to know what steps the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) and the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) are taking if the smoke emitted by these engines is causing pollution to rise.

According to Mr Das, he wrote to the chairperson of the National Green Tribunal, narrating the environmental pollution due to smoke from diesel-run autos and health hazards in the town owing to this on 12 September last year.

“The ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change forwarded the letter to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), asking it to take necessary steps and send the action reports to the applicant within 15 days,” he said.

However, Mr Das claimed he is yet to get any response, forcing him to write to the tribunal and the CPCB again on 9 November last year.

According to him the CPCB, however, started recording the air quality of the town since February this year. “I am deeply concerned about the present situation of pollution in Siliguri. The pollution level has reached an alarming situation. The recent figures of the CPCB stated that the Air Quality Index of the town was higher than some cities in India. Being a resident of the town, I have fled applications under the RTI, addressed to the SMC and the WBPCB, seeking information on how much smoke is emitted by diesel autos and if it is pollution-free,” Mr Das said. Around 1,250 diesel autos run in the town.

Mr Das said the diesel autos should immediately be converted into gas-run ones. It may be mentioned here that a thick haze/smog blanketed Siliguri town for almost four consecutive evenings very recently, leaving residents worried.

Many residents complained of burning eyes, breathing problems and headache. The worried residents said a mechanism should be introduced to check the pollution level in the town, and that authorities concerned should immediately spring into action and save the town.

Siliguri Mayor Asok Bhattacharya said he has written to the Forest Department and the WBPCB regarding the recent smog that enveloped parts of Siliguri town.

Sources at the WBPCB office in Siliguri said they have already communicated with “municipality commissioners and forest department, and people concerned, about the pollution levels and reported fires in and around Siliguri.”